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Germany to lift worldwide travel warning from October

The warning against tourist travel for more than 160 countries throughout the world will be in place until the end of September.

Germany to lift worldwide travel warning from October
Photo: DPA

From October 1st, the ban on non-essential travel to countries outside the EU will be lifted and replaced with detailed travel advice for each country.

That's according to a cabinet decision, DPA learned from government circles on Wednesday.

However, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said that in practice this would change little as far as the possibility of travel was concerned. 

It will likely be the case that a travel warning can still be issued for countries that are considered risk areas, the Foreign Office said.

Last month the German government had extended the warning against tourist travel until September 14th.

When were travel restrictions introduced?

On March 17th, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued a warning against tourist travel worldwide in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In June, however, Germany lifted the ban for all EU countries, the border control-free Schengen area as well as the UK, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City. Later, parts of Turkey joined the list.


However, warnings are issued for these countries or particular regions if the coronavirus situation changes.

READ ALSO: Who is allowed to travel to Germany from outside the EU?

Germany is also currently allowing incoming travellers from several non-EU countries with low-infection rates, including New Zealand and Australia.

What's a travel warning?

A travel warning is not a ban, but is put in place in a bid to deter people from non-essential travel.

The travel warning is issued regardless of the Robert Koch Institute's classification of countries as risk areas. Anyone returning to Germany from a risk area must be tested for the coronavirus or go into quarantine.

Germany has fared better than many of its European neighbours during the pandemic but infection rates have been rising recently.

READ ALSO: 'Insane adventure': What it's like travelling to Germany from abroad in coronavirus times

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HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

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